Dubbed “The Les Paul of The Violin World” by PBS, Mark Wood is a Juilliard-trained violist who first gained world-wide attention performing with the internationally acclaimed Trans-Siberian Orchestra. In addition to touring as a sideman with world-class artists including Billy Joel, Kanye West, Lenny Kravitz and Celine Dion, Wood is also a recording artist, producer, inventor, Emmy-winning composer and music education advocate.
We’re very excited to have recently added several of Mark’s pieces to the SmartMusic repertoire library.
Anyone who meets Mark quickly discovers the high level of intensity he brings to everything he does, and there’s nothing he’s more passionate about than music education. For 16 years he has led Electrify Your Strings (EYS), an intensive music education program that ignites students, teachers, and communities by injecting energy and funding into music education programs.
To date, close to 1,000 schools and universities and hundreds of thousands of young musicians have been transformed by the EYS phenomenon. This week Mark is in Oklahoma working alongside orchestra director Peter Markes (named as the 2014 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year). Last week I spoke to Peter about his experience with EYS:
What initially drew you to Electrify Your Strings?
Two factors: the first was a long-standing desire from several of our instructors to have a high-energy, positive image-building program like Mark’s. The other catalyst was a local vendor, Inter-City Violin Studios, who are strong supporters of our string programs and who are Oklahoma’s sole Wood distributors.
Can you describe how the EYS program worked at your school last year?
We hosted Mark Wood and Bridgid Bibbens in 2014, and they did a day of workshops with all of our students combined (Mark with about 400 HS students and Bridgid with about 450 MS students). The following day culminated with a dress rehearsal and concert to a standing room only audience. The show closer, Hoedown, with Mark, Bridgid, and over 800 string players was quite memorable.
What benefits did you realize after the workshop?
The students were really excited, and for quite a while. Their long-lasting buzz was the catalyst for having EYS back to Edmond in 2015.
Which schools will be involved this year?
Edmond North, Santa Fe, and Memorial High Schools, and Cheyenne, Cimarron, Sequoyah, Central, and Summit Middle Schools….it’s big!
What are your goals for this year’s event?
Our goals this year are to expand the venue so that our students and a wider audience can see the whole show. We also continue to maintain Mark’s goal of really increasing the student’s positive self-image. The music component aside, that is really the biggest benefit and goal to EYS.
MakeMusic clearly shares Mark’s passion for increasing positive self-image and keeping music programs alive in the schools. In fact, we’re so excited about the energy surrounding EYS that we’ll be sponsoring EYS events at several schools this year. If you’re interested in such a sponsorship, contact Barbara Ring at [email protected] or 516-767-6677 for more information.
Please note that the deadline for this program is October 31, 2015.